Peter McKerry is a London-based beer geek whose blog, Drunken Cinema, is soon to be reborn with a fancy-pants new website: Brew Geekery. The revamped blog will continue to document Peter’s increasing obsession with beer, and will feature beer and event reviews as well as commentary on the beery issues of the day. You can follow him on Twitter at @PJMcKerry.
Hackney is synonymous with craft beer in London and is well represented at the London Brewers’ Market this Easter, with beers from Hackney Brewery and the event’s organisers, The Five Points Brewing Co.
I was living in Hackney when the craft beer revolution started to gather pace; it was an exciting time as new breweries seemed to be popping up every other day, and all within walking distance from my house. As well as Hackney Brewery and Five Points, other notable breweries from the borough include London Fields, Howling Hops – based in the Cock Tavern brewpub on Mare Street – and Pressure Drop; and while Beavertown is now based in Tottenham, it started life in the cellars of Duke’s Brew & Que in Haggerston.
Hackney has a rich brewing history too, with Truman’s, originally established in 1666 and closing in 1989, being re-established in 2010, emblematic of the wider London beer renaissance. And there are yet more breweries on Hackney’s borders, such as Crate Brewery in Hackney Wick (officially within the boundaries of Tower Hamlets) and One Mile End in, well, Mile End.
Given the plethora of breweries in Hackney, it’s no surprise that there are plenty of places selling Hackney-made beer. For take-away there is the Stoke Newington branch of Borough Wines on Church Street, Noble Fine Liquor on Broadway Market and Clapton Craft on Lower Clapton Road. The pubs are too many to mention, but personal favourites of mine are the Railway Tavern and Ale House on St. Jude’s Street in Dalston, the Jolly Butcher’s on Stoke Newington Road and the aforementioned Cock Tavern on Mare Street. Hell, Hackney’s so craft you can even drink good beer at the cinema: the Rio in Dalston stocks beers from Hackney Brewery, and the Hackney Picturehouse has beers from Beavertown, Bear Hug Brewing, London Fields and Crate.
But back to London Brewers’ Market. We don’t have a definitive tap or bottle list of what’s on offer, but below are my top five Hackney-brewed beers (in no particular order), including two that we may get to scoop on 28 March. It won’t escape your attention that I have a predilection for hoppy pales and IPAs…
1. Pressure Drop Pale Fire – a gorgeously bitter pale ale which, while the hop profile may alter occasionally, remains a fruity, zesty thirst-quencher of a beer, and recently made The Beer O’Clock Show’s top ten UK pale ales.
2. Five Points Hook Island Red – a delicious red rye beer packed with US hops, it’s fruity and earthy with a hint of spice, and one that I particularly enjoy on cask. At 6%, you get significant bang for your buck.
3. Hackney Brewery Amarillo Citra Pale – a veritable “Juicy Banger” of a beer. Although better known for cask ales, Hackney has recently introduced a keg range, and I stumbled across this gem at The Barge House alongside the Regent’s Canal.
4. London Fields Shoreditch Triangle IPA – at 6%, this is a dangerously sessionable IPA with a beautiful caramel malt backbone rounded by a juicy bitterness that has you downing it in no time.
5. Five Points IPA – with a tropical fruit punch that hits you as soon as you pop the cap on your bottle or are handed a pint (which is probably a silly idea given that it comes in at 7.5%), some have compared it favourably to Magic Rock’s Cannonball – but that’s for you to decide…
If you prefer less “hop-forward” beers, Hackney also does a golden ale and a best bitter, while Five Points’ Railway Porter is a fine take on the style. Either way, I’ll see you at the market. Bunny ears optional.